After discontinuing mental health programmes for three years, the State government is all set to put it back in place with adequate budgetary support.

The government has agreed to make budgetary allocation to set up rehabilitation centres, residential schools for mentally challenged children and de-addiction centres in all the 30 districts.

Well-known psychiatrist K.A. Ashok Pai from Shimoga, who heads the Karnataka State Mental Health Task Force, held a meeting with the Deputy Commissioner and officials of the Health Department here on Wednesday.

He said the task force had been set up to help the government transform the State into a “model health county” in the country.

He said the mental health programme, which was initially began as a pilot project in Bangalore, Chamarajanagar and Gulbarga, was started in 2004 but discontinued after 2009. Though the feedback on this programme was highly encouraging, the programme ended, Dr. Pai said. However, it got a new lease of life recently with the government committing to support the programme by allocating funds, he said.

The government had proposed to allocate Rs. 4 crore each to set up psychosocial rehabilitation centres, Rs. 8 crore each to set up residential schools, and Rs. 4 crore each for de-addiction and rehabilitation centres for those suffering from cerebral palsy.

Dr. Pai, who stressed the need for propagating the concept of positive mental health through psycho-education and creating awareness to identify primary mental health disorder symptoms at an early stage, quoted independent surveys which said 2 per cent of the Indian population suffered from psychosis (schizophrenia, depression, bipolar affective disorder, paranoia); 6 per cent from neurosis (anxiety, phobia, hysteria, obsessive compulsive disorder, somatoform disorders); 4 per cent from personality disorders, drug abuse, deviant sexual behaviour, psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies, and 2 per cent from behaviour disorders secondary to organic brain damage, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, and multiple disability. Fourteen per cent of the population need mental health, he said. Cases of suicide because of mental health disorders were alarming, with one suicide every three minutes and one individual attempting suicide every second across the world, Dr. Pai said.

Around 75 lakh of the nearly six crore people in the State need routine mental health check-up, he said.

Presently, there were only 250 psychiatrists, 200 clinical psychologists and a few psychiatric social workers in the State. The total inpatient beds in the State were less than 300, excluding NIMHANS in Bangalore and the mental hospital in Dharwad.

While 50 psychiatrists were trained in the State every year, many of them went abroad for better opportunities. The task force would work towards filling this gap, Dr. Pai added.

Deputy Commissioner V. Anbukkumar promised to provide all support to achieve the objectives of the task force in the district.

  • Task force set up to help the government transform State into a ‘model health county’: Pai

  • Funds to be allocated to set up rehabilitation and de-addiction centres, and residential schools